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Ngarrindjeri leader wins national NAIDOC Week award as local achievers recognised
The Ngarrindjeri nation’s best and brightest for 2022, including Walter Jackson, have been celebrated at an awards ceremony in Murray Bridge.
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A Ngarrindjeri leader has been recognised at both a national and a local level during NAIDOC Week.
Walter Jackson brought home a caring for country and culture award from the national NAIDOC awards, presented in Melbourne on Saturday.
He backed it up in Murray Bridge on Monday, where he was one of two recipients of a worker of the year award for his work on several significant projects across Ngarrindjeri country.
These included being appointed as chief executive of Ngopamuldi Aboriginal Corporation, guest lecturing in Aboriginal studies at the University of South Australia and advocating for the employment of young First Nations people.
His award was one of 10 presented at Murray Bridge’s NAIDOC Week celebration for 2022, which kicked off with the annual bridge walk.
Around 300 people met at the east side of the old Murray Bridge before walking over and meeting at the council building, where awards and flag-raising ceremonies were held.
Hip hop artist Isaiah Janiak set the scene with a performance, followed by the Deadly Nannas, who performed a welcome to country and a few of their popular songs.
For the first time, the Deadly Nannas also performed with Janiak and Isaiah Kartinyeri.
Elder of the year awards were presented to Steve Sumner and Vicki Hartman.
Mr Sumner had tirelessly supported the Ngarrindjeri community, MC Talia Lloyd said, encouraging leadership, and was working towards having a purpose-built facility where all Ngarrindjeri organisations could be under one roof.
Meanwhile, Ms Hartman had provided her Ngarrindjeri language expertise as a translator, was part of Nragi Muthar – the Deadly Nannas – and continued to provide advice and support to family and friends.
Young person of the year awards went to Isaiah Janiak and Ekacia Goldsmith.
Isaiah volunteered at Headspace Murray Bridge and his musical talent had led him to work with Headspace, Moorundi, the Station youth centre and even to run his own youth music workshop on Kangaroo Island.
A year 11 student at Mannum Community College, Ekacia had won STEM and Australian Business and Community Network scholarships and aimed to be the first person in her family to complete SACE and attend university, all while caring for her three younger siblings, step-father and grandparents since her mother’s passing.
Alongside Mr Jackson, Jaimie Pearson also won a worker of the year award; she had been pivotal in emphasising Aboriginal issues in her local council area, lobbying for recognition of language, culture and land.
Anthony Long and Nekia Wilson were awarded sports person of the year.
Anthony, a year nine student, had a long line of footballing achievements behind him, having won a football scholarship to Prince Alfred College, played for Jervois’ A grade and been accepted for the final squad for the Adelaide Crows Academy.
A talented athlete in basketball, netball and football, Ms Wilson played on premiership teams for the Falcons and Bullets, was selected for the Indigenous netball development team three years in a row, and played for both North Adelaide and Sturt in the SANFL.
A junior encouragement award was given to Jordan Wilson, who had put a huge effort into engaging with his school, increased his attendance and adopted an attitude towards learning that was “positively deadly”, Ms Lloyd said, especially in Ngarrindjeri lessons.
Lastly, an artist of the year award was snapped up by the Murrundi Ink team: Georgie Trevorrow, Ros Richards, Diana Murphy and Natasha Sumner.
Murrundi Ink had contributed to the growing number of books for children and young people incorporating the Ngarrindjeri language and crafted by local artists; so far they had published five, with many more to come.
Ms Lloyd said Ngarrindjeri were holding true to this year’s NAIDOC Week theme: get up, stand up, show up.
“From the frontier wars and our earliest resistance fighters to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities fighting for change today, we continue to show up,” she said.
“Whether it’s seeking proper environmental, cultural and heritage protections, constitutional change … or calling out racism, we must do it together.
“We all must continue to get up, stand up, show up for systematic change and keep rallying around our mobs, our elders and our communities.”
More information about Mr Jackson’s national award: www.naidoc.org.au.